The United States on Monday returned to a small portion of land within the U.S. air base in Okinawa Prefecture.
The return of around a 4-hectare strip of the 481-hectare base is apparently aimed at showing locals the central government is working to reduce the southern island prefecture’s burden of hosting the bulk of U.S. military facilities in .
and the United States have agreed to return all the land used for the base, though prospects are uncertain as the prefectural government is firmly opposed to the plan to relocate the base elsewhere in Okinawa.
The two countries announced in December 2015 some land at the key U.S. base would be returned as part of efforts to ease the island prefecture’s burden of hosting U.S. military installations.
In 1996, the Japanese and U.S. governments struck an accord on the return of the land used for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station . In 2013, they agreed to return the land in “fiscal 2022 or later.”
But locals remain opposed to the controversial plan to relocate the base to a coastal area in Okinawa.
Last week the Okinawa prefectural government filed a fresh lawsuit against the central government, seeking a halt to construction work for the relocation.